In 2014, Josh Jackson led Detroit Consortium to a Class C boys basketball state title as a sophomore. Five years later, two years into his NBA career with the Phoenix Suns, Jackson was back home dedicating a basketball on the city’s lower east side.
He teamed up with WNBA Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman and her non-profit, Nancy Lieberman Charities, Sport Court, Under Armour’s UA Freedom initiative, and the City of Detroit to provide a Dream Court at Erma Henderson Park, 8598 East Jefferson.
Jackson, 22, was joined by his family, former coaches and teammates, the Detroit Police Department, and dozens of young basketball players for the dedication of the new court.
“Nancy has been doing stuff like this for years, so for her to include me in something that’s positive for the kids of my city, is pretty cool,” said Jackson. “To be in the position that I am to today, helping people and changing lives, I feel it’s my responsibility to do it. I have a lot of kids looking up to me and I want to be as influential to them as I can be.”
Dream Courts are top-quality, multi-purpose play spaces built with shock absorbing materials designed to prevent injuries. Detroit became the fifth city to date to have a Dream Court installed. Dream Courts are in cities nationwide including Dallas, Charlotte, Atlanta, and PG County.
Under Armour’s UA Freedom initiative further supported the safe space for youth to engage with law enforcement in an effort to connect the platform of basketball with meaningful conversations and interactions. Lieberman, who has strong ties to the City of Detroit as well, said her collaboration with Jackson will help “change the narrative” of what is happening in inner-city communities.
“I’ve done some pretty amazing things in my career, but nothing is more important than giving back to the next generation,” said Lieberman, who has been placing Dream Courts all over the country for years. “Josh and I have a lot in common. He’s playing for the Suns, I ended my career with the Phoenix Mercury, he grew up in Detroit, and I came here to coach and play for the Detroit Shock. We both love kids and community, so to be able to partner with him and Under Armour, it was a no-brainer to come back here.”
The brand new Dream Court at Erma Henderson Park is not the typical blacktop courts Lieberman played on growing up in Far Rockaway, New York or the ones Jackson played on as kid in Detroit. He remembers playing at the very same park as child, except things are much different now, with the installation of a tile court, complete with Under Armour logos.
“This court is much better than what I grew playing on, versus that concrete,” laughed Jackson. “The location, right off the river, is so amazing. I remember when I was younger, we used to have picnics here and when we were done eating, we played basketball on this court. That’s what this place should continue to be about; family, community, and having fun.”
After the court dedication and ribbon cutting, Lieberman and Jackson got up a few backwards, half-court shots. Jackson was successful after a few attempts. Lieberman gave up, eventually opening the court to the dozens of kids in attendance eager to play basketball.
“It was an amazing opportunity to meet Josh Jackson and play on this brand new court,” said 10-year-old Eden Vineyard. “I’ve met two other NBA players before, so it’s becoming a normal thing to me.”
Monday, it was reported that Detroit Shock legend Swin Cash was hired by the New Orleans Pelicans’ front office as vice president of basketball operations and team development. Cash was drafted No.2 overall in the 2002 WNBA Draft by the Shock, leading the franchise to two championships in 2003 and 2006. She also had her No. 32 retired by the team.
In 1998, Lieberman was hired as General Manager and head coach of the Shock. On July 24, 2008, at 50, she signed a seven-day contract with the Shock, breaking her own previous record as the oldest player in WNBA history. She played one game and had two assists and two turnovers against the Houston Comets. In July 2015, she was hired by the Sacramento Kings as an assistant coach, becoming the second female assistant coach in NBA history now broadcast game for Pelicans. She is also the head coach of the Power in the BIG3 League, where she led them to the 2018 BIG3 Championship. She, too, has a lot in common with Cash and was very happy about her joining the Pelicans’ organization.
“I was just with Swin Saturday in Knoxville for The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and I’m thrilled for her,” said Lieberman. “It couldn’t have happened to a better human being. The city of New Orleans will embrace her, and she’ll be ready.”